Building unique furniture from nature’s art

Thomas Logan Howell with a swing he crafted from wood. (Darlene Paterson photo)

Thomas Logan Howell with a swing he crafted from wood. (Darlene Paterson photo)

By Darlene Paterson

Thomas Logan Howell of T. Logan Furniture can turn ordinary looking wood into a work of art. Howell’s home and shop, located at the left of the Shell Station at Rock Island, can be seen by travelers passing by on Highway 28. His yard and home are filled with unique pieces he has crafted from nature. Thomas looks at a piece of wood, observing its curves and interesting shapes and visualizes what it could become. He calls his work “nature’s art” because he keeps the wood’s natural form instead of steam bending it.

Howell began working with wood about 35 years ago while in the antique business. “I refinished antiques to their original beauty and then took them on the road. I was kind of the original antique road show,” he said with a smile.

Thomas also worked in the logging industry. “I started saving unique pieces of wood I came across, knowing I someday wanted to start building furniture. About 10 years ago, I decided to start a business using the pieces of wood I had collected.”

Howell replenishes his wood supply while helping the forest service at the same time. “I clear trees, cutting pole pine and other small stuff that would be a fire hazard if not cleared out. The forest service likes this free service I perform for them.”

He sets up camp in the forest for a couple weeks each fall. Thomas sees a lot of hunters while camping out. “I go hunting for wood instead of deer,” he laughs. “Of course, the hunters don’t like the chain saw much.”

Thomas says he is getting low on wood and can’t go out this fall. He suffered a setback in May when a table saw caught his hand, pulling it back into the saw. He severed his left index finger and severely injured the two fingers next to it. After two surgeries and physical therapy, his hand is still swollen and numb. He wears a glove over his bandaged hand. “I am thankful for my great friends who drop by to help me with projects that need finishing touches. And I don’t know what I would do without my faithful assistant, Shari Latray.”

Howell travels throughout Washington state displaying his work at special events. This past weekend, visitors to Apple Days at the Pioneer Village in Cashmere saw his interesting display in front of the museum.

News of his expertise travels by word of mouth and people seek him out when desiring a unique piece of furniture. “Sometimes customers bring their own wood, other times they choose wood from my stockpile. Or they might bring a picture showing what they want. I look at the picture and build it. It just seems to fall together like a puzzle. I guess you could say God has blessed me with this talent, because no one has taught me how to do it.”

“I aim to satisfy my customers,” Howell says. “Recently I built a bed for some folks and they didn’t like the style, so I built a new one in four days.”

Howell also reclaims old furniture. People drop off furniture they want to get rid of. “If it’s solid wood I can transform it,” he says. “For example, I make benches out of old bed headboards. In winter, I focus on bench building, my most popular item, stockpiling them to sell in the spring.”

Thomas enjoys using his creative talents, not only to put food on the table, but also to bless others. This past summer while attending his 40-year class reunion in Mount Vernon, he talked with a former classmate, Terri Jungquist Davis, and discovered her 5 year old granddaughter Delilah suffers from severe Type 1 Diabetes. When he learned Terri had started a Facebook page to fund a service dog for Delilah and heard how the dog would help Delilah and her family, he began donating his handiwork to the cause. Terri displays a picture and description of each item from The Thomas Howell Collection on her Facebook page — Dog For Delilah Selling/Auction Site. His collection is selling quickly and Terri says they are getting close to their $12,000 goal.

Thomas Howell is a hard-working artisan with a unique gift. Call 393-4190 for more information.

A unique piece Thomas crafted from a dying tree. (Darlene Paterson photo)

A unique piece Thomas crafted from a dying tree. (Darlene Paterson photo)